Last week, I wrote about questions non-writers tend to ask writers. This week, I thought about what questions writers ask writers. The obvious questions came to my mind. “What genre do you write?” “What’s your current project about?” “Are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in the middle?” Even though there is no secret handshake for writers (at least, I don’t think there is!), certain terms and familiar head nods signal to writers you’ve found someone else who shares your love of imagining new plots and putting the stories in your head on paper (or a computer screen, whatever the case may be). At conferences, programs, and workshops alike, however, those questions are always followed up with the inevitable, “When do you find time to write?” Having four kids, a Basset hound, a husband whose work schedule is rather unpredictable, and being president of Georgia Romance Writers, I always listen with a keen ear to the answers I hear for the last question. There are the inevitable answers of “I wake up early” or “I go to sleep late.” However, I want to share the time I heard the best response to that question and I’d like to credit the wonderful writer Nicki Salcedo for sharing her answer with myself and everyone else lucky enough to be in her workshop that day.
When I attended my first Moonlight and Magnolias conference, I attended a workshop led by Nicki Salcedo and Jennifer McQuiston on the subject of making time to write. Notice right there the amazing part of this workshop. It didn’t involve squeezing time of a lemon. Two writers devoted to their craft made time for their writing in a deliberate manner. During the workshop, someone asked a question. I can’t remember the question, and I can’t even remember who asked the question. It was something about why Nicki stayed up late to write. Nicki looked the person in the eye and asked if that person liked spending time with her friends. The person looked perplexed and nodded. Nicki told her her characters were her friends and she loved spending time with her characters and why would she not want to spend time with her friends.
This month, I’ve thought about that response often. The joy of writing, the joy of making time to spend with your book characters is sometimes lost in the business of writing. Writers are self-promoters, students, writers, cheerleaders, marketers, and so much more. However, if we don’t love our characters, the villains and the heroes alike, that comes out in our stories. This month I’m making time to recapturing the joy in writing, the joy in my characters, the joy in making time for something that is an integral part of myself. Without that joy, without that determined focus on wanting my characters to become a part of someone else’s lives, I don’t know if making the time to write can translate into a great story. The joy of making friends with your characters and spending time with those friends can go a long way in answering “when do you find time to write” because that joy is the reason you make time to write.